Abuja, Nigeria, 28 June 2018 (ECA) – The High Level Policy Dialogue on development planning in Africa opened Wednesday in Abuja with the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) recommitting to strengthening its support to development planning and statistical development, among other areas, towards ensuring the effective mainstreaming of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Africa and their realization in an efficient and effective manner.
Capacity Development Division (CDD) Director, Stephen Karingi, said the ECA recognizes the need to provide tailored capacity building and advisory services to member States in the area of development planning and statistics, including SDG mainstreaming to support Africa’s quest for inclusive and sustainable transformation and development.
“The Commission has a long-standing history in capacity development, through which it has continued to make distinct and recognized contributions to addressing Africa’s development challenges and aspirations,” he said, adding that given its dual role as the regional arm of the United Nations and an integral part of the African institutional landscape, its capacity development strategy was anchored within relevant frameworks of the African Union (AU) and the UN.
Mr. Karingi applauded the fact that member States have embarked on the process to domesticate the Agenda 2030 for sustainable development in earnest.
“In this connection, we have noted an increasing number of requests from countries for capacity building and advisory services in the areas of development planning and statistical capacity development, including SDG mainstreaming,” he said.
The 2017 HLPD seeks to explore relevant content and modalities that will help member States mainstream the SDGs into national development planning processes across the policy cycle; that is design, implementation, monitoring, evaluation and reporting.
Mr. Karingi said Africa cannot achieve its aspirations without proper development planning.
“Development planning provides a systematic approach to identifying, articulating, prioritizing and satisfying the economic and social needs and aspirations of a country within a given resource envelope,” he said, adding planning was therefore an essential means of achieving a country’s development objectives or vision.
The challenge confronting Africa, said Mr. Karingi, is not only to attain and maintain, but also to translate rapid economic growth into sustained and inclusive development, based on economic diversification that creates jobs, contributes to reduced inequality and poverty rates, enhances access to basic services and corrects market failures that undermine environmental sustainability. Important enablers, he said, include deepening regional integration and improving Africa’s standing in the global arena, accelerating the establishment of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) and developing trade-related transboundary infrastructure.
In this regard, the attainment of the SDGs in Africa will necessarily hinge on the extent to which they have been mainstreamed into the national development planning process, he said.
Time for action
In her welcome remarks to participants, Nana Fatima Mede, the permanent secretary of the budget and national planning ministry of Nigeria, said it was time for Africa to take action on the ground as it seeks to promote policies that will change the lives of the ordinary people.
She said it was not for lack of knowledge that the continent was not implementing policies that can change the people’s lives, adding commitment to implement Africa’s plans is what is required.
“As we make efforts to mainstream the SDGs in our respective national plans, let us not forget to do the same for the Africa-focused Agenda 2063,” said Ms. Mede, who spoke on behalf of her Minister, Senator Udoma Udo Adoma.
“The point of emphasis must be social development of our people, inclusive economic development for prosperity, inclusive societies and responsive institutions for peace and environmental sustainability of the planet,” she added as she challenged participants to think through the possible connections and synergies that can be formed across African countries in mainstreaming SDGs in national plans.
UN Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Edward Kallon, said the HLPD offered participants an opportunity to dialogue on development planning in different countries and situational contexts with the ultimate goal of realizing sustainable development in Africa.
“While the challenges facing SDG mainstreaming in Africa are many and varied, a useful entry point for tackling these challenges is to address the seemingly co-joined problem of weak statistical capacities and dearth of comprehensive, reliable and up-to-date data for objective policy and programme design as well as tracking progress on specific SDG indicators,” he said.
“We must halt the steady slide of many African countries towards poverty and deprivation as well as widening inequality. We know what needs to be done. What we might not know, and if we know may not always agree on, is how to do it. I remain optimistic that this session will focus on the how question as opposed to the what questions.”
In his welcoming remarks, Adeyemi Dipeolu, Special Advisor to the Nigerian President on Economic Affairs, explained his country’s economic policies and what the country has done so far towards mainstreaming the SDGs into its plans and related issues.
The three-day HLPD has brought together about 60 top African planners and chief executives of planning bodies to discuss development planning on the continent under the theme: Mainstreaming the Sustainable Development Goals into National Development Plans.
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